Articles from the Journal of Urban Affairs‘ current Special Issue, Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities, are available for download now!


By Robert Mark Silverman

Shrinking cities are a global phenomenon, with notable examples in Europe, North America, Asia, and other parts of the world. Past research has examined shrinking cities in reference to spatial patterns, demographic shifts, deindustrialization, and urban governance. There is growing literature focused on the theoretical underpinnings of shrinking cities which questions the salience of existing urban growth paradigms. A common, but underdeveloped, thread in the literature on shrinking cities involves the challenge of promoting social justice and equity. Paradoxically, there is a tendency for society’s most vulnerable groups to be concentrated in shrinking cities, while many policies adopted to promote revitalization in these places fail to address the pressing needs of the poor, aging, and dispossessed. Instead, efforts to revitalize shrinking cities mirror societal trends toward increased social and class polarization that have come to characterize urbanization in the neoliberal era. This special issue reframes discourse on shrinking cities, placing an emphasis on social justice and equity. Articles that critically examine urban policy and governance in shrinking cities across the globe are examined. Within this framework, challenges shrinking cities confront in relation to community organizing, affordable housing, urban revitalization, abandonment, environmental justice, and public schools are scrutinized.

Click here to view the Journal of Urban Affairs‘ Special Issue: Promoting Social Justice and Equity in Shrinking Cities table of contents, articles and video.